Historical Records of New Zealand Vol. II.
JOURNAL OF THE “MARQUIS DE CASTRIES.” — (Written by Captain du Clesmeur.)
An Account of a Voyage in the Austral and Pacific Seas, commenced in 1771, under the Command of M. Marion du Fresne, Captain of Fireship, and completed in 1773, under that of M. du Clesmeur (Gadre de Marine).
On the same day we took an observation which placed us in 39°, from which we had reason to believe this mountain was one of the headlands of Murderers' Bay, which has a width at its opening of about 30 leagues. Thence we followed the coast, which falls back towards the north, and at 2 leagues from the shore we almost always got soundings of 25 fathoms, with a sandy bottom.
On the 3rd April we were off the northern point of New Zealand, and it was with the utmost delight that I saw the day, so long desired, now approaching when we could put in somewhere. A very violent storm, which came up from the northwest, compelled us to put out to sea, and it was not until the 12th April that we could well distinguish the so-called King's Islands (the Three Kings), which were found to be very different from the description given of them by Abel Tasman.
Conningin Island, the largest, which is at the most 2 leagues in circumference, is nothing but a mountain, which appeared to us to be inaccessible. In the south-western part of the island we saw some smoke on the summit, and could even make out some men; but there was no river, or any appearance of an anchorage, which caused M. Marion to decide upon going on to New Zealand for the supplies of fresh water and wood, of which we were about to run short.page 447
On the 13th we found bottom on the coast of New Zealand in a large cove, where we thought we could find some fresh water. The next day the breeze was so weak that we could not regain the coast, but on the 15th M. Marion sent M. Lehoux on a reconnoitring expedition. Upon his return we learnt that there was a fair anchorage in the cove, into which flowed a little stream of fresh water, and that the country seemed to be inhabited, he having seen several paths and the ruins of a village of considerable size.
On the 16th at 9 in the morning, we let fall the anchor in 21 fathoms of water over a bottom of large gravel and shells. M. Marion immediately sent M. Croizet to gain further information as to the watering-place, but hardly had M. Croizet approached the land when the wind, which began to blow strongly from the north, compelled him to return to the ship, which he only managed to reach after much trouble. Towards 5 o'clock the wind was blowing with great violence. The current, which up till then had been against the wind, had been of great assistance to us. Both the one and the other now being contrary made our ship drag its anchor, and compelled me to put out another. I housed my top-gallant mast, and got everything snug for the night, in case anything might happen. These precautions proved salutary, for at 3 in the morning one of our cables parted, and, fearing we might foul the “Mascarin,” I let go a third anchor, which did not hold very long. At length, seeing that we were continuing to drag, and that we were nearly running aground, I cut the cables and made sail. We were then, at the most, a quarter of a league from the rocks when we began to forge ahead. I was soon far enough to windward, and close-hauled. The wind was violent, and accompanied by rain, until 10 o'clock in the morning. At 1 o'clock in the afternoon, the weather having cleared up and the wind gone down a good deal, we sighted the Kings Islands (Three Kings), from which we were not far distant, and shortly afterwards, from the mast-head, a sail was distinguished. We had no doubt this was the “Mascarin,” which had gone through the same experience as ourselves. M. Marion soon rejoined us, and informed me of the danger he had been in. The sea had broken over the forecastle during the night, and at 8 in the morning, seeing that he was bound to run ashore if the bad weather continued, he had cut his cables. The calm did not last long, for towards 10 o'clock the wind sprung up again with the same force, and forced us to clear the cape. During the night there was a total eclipse of the moon. We took every care to profit by this, and, according to our observations, we were 10½° further to the east than we had imagined. The vessels were labouring heavily, especiallypage 449
the “Mascarin.” The westerly and heavy sea buffeted us about until the 23rd, when M. Marion sent off in his cutter to ask for a statement of my most pressing needs. He was aware that we begun to have scurvy on board, and that for more than a month we had been reduced to one pint of water per head daily. I sent him an exact account of our supplies, upon which he determined not to leave this coast until we had got a supply of fresh water, and endeavoured to get up the anchors, the loss of which might bring about events most prejudicial to our mission.
On the 26th, in the morning, whilst sailing close to the coast to regain the cove where we had lost our anchors, we saw a village on a little hill. M. Marion despatched the cutter to reconnoitre. Scarcely had it left when a canoe was observed coming along the coast. The commander of the cutter tried to overtake it, but the natives who were on board took refuge in the cove, and abandoned their boat upon the arrival of our cutter at the village. The terrified New-Zealanders gained the heights, where they had a sort of fort surrounded by palisades. M. Lehoux, who was in charge of the expedition, having made signs of friendship to them, the oldest amongst them came forward and replied, at the same time reversing his spear and throwing a fine fish into the boat. He was presented with a few handkerchiefs and a knife. The New-Zealander immediately expressed his satisfaction and his gratitude by giving our people several more fish.
As soon as we had anchored we launched our cutters and “Mascarin's” anchors alone recovered. longboats to dredge for the lost anchors, but we could only recover the two that belonged to the “Mascarin,” and one of our cables, which was so chafed as to be quite useless. M. Marion sent me one of his cables and an anchor, and ordered me to make sail as soon as the weather would permit.
I profited by the calm to go and visit the coast, and landed in the sandy cove at the mouth of a little river, whose water, unfortunately, was brackish. I noticed, however, that at a mile inland from the mouth of this stream the water was sweet, but very difficult to get at. On the banks of this river I found the abandoned village of which I have already spoken, and a neighbouring plain, where we shot some quail, which were in no way inferior to those we know in Europe. It was still only half-past 3 when I perceived the signal go up for setting sail. M. Marion's ship was already under weigh when I got back to my own vessel. The next morning we doubled the North Cape of New Zealand, which M. Marion has named Cape Eolus, thepage 451
On the 3rd May, at 8 o'clock in the morning, being only two miles from the land, a canoe was seen approaching us. It came alongside M. Marion's ship, but he could only succeed in persuading the natives to go on board by handing then some presents at the end of a line. He sent them off again, each with a shirt and a pair of breeches, but they no sooner left the vessel than they took off their new garments to put on their own again. It was not long before we saw several other canoes, attracted by the friendly reception which had been given to the firstcomers.
At last we had on board the two vessels at least a hundred New-Zealanders, who were singing and dancing nearly all the time; and we had some trouble in getting rid of them, and then only on condition that we should visit them on land. As an additional inducement, they gave us to understand that their women were very pretty, hoping to attract us by this inducement, one effective enough to unite races quite different in their manners and customs.
I noticed their language had very much in common with that of Tahiti or Cythera. I made use indeed, with some success, of the vocabularies which were brought away by M. Bougainville's ships. We had now all the more reason to deplore the death of the islander Maijaa (who had been taken from Tahiti, but had died). Everything combined to inspire us with the utmost confidence in the New-Zealanders—their coming on board without weapons, the little astonishment they displayed on coming on board, and the name of Tapon* which they gave to our muskets—all persuaded us that they had seen Europeans on their coast before.†
We conceived the highest hopes of these people, and immediately put in train the necessary preparations for anchoring as soon as possible in a haven where we flattered ourselves we should find everything we needed for our vessels and obtain supplies of fresh water.
The “Mascarin's” cutter had gone early in the morning to search for an anchorage on the eastern side of the island, and in the afternoon the same boat was sent off to reconnoitre the bay to which the canoes had retreated. Four hours after midnight they had both returned. M. Marion's cutter had discovered, some 10 leagues away from the vessels, a very fine bay, where there was anchorage on a sandy bottom at 15 fathoms.page 453
water. Several canoes having surrounded the cutter, our people had been compelled to fire a few shots in the air to drive them away and send them off without committing any act of hostility. My cutter had also found a very good anchorage in a neighbouring bay. The next day, M. Marion, having again sent a boat to reconnoitre, set sail for there without waiting the return of our boats. At 4 in the evening we saw the vessel disembogue between the two islands. We perceived with great delight from the signals that a harbour and good water had been found.
The “Mascarin,” which had gained upon my ship, soon rejoined her cutter to go to the anchorage before night came on, and at half-past 5 luckily found herself near enough to prevent me striking a sunken rock, which I named the Razeline reef, and upon which, had we struck, the vessel would have certainly been lost.
The spot where we had anchored was not very well sheltered, but we were not long in finding, quite close to us, a very fine haven, in which we considered it wise to take soundings before we took the ship in.
The same day, in the evening, I accompanied M. Marion in my cutter. We were piloted by a native, who took us to a landing-place at the foot of a hill, where we found a large number of natives. We noticed in this neighbourhood some very suitable timber, for the repairs of which the “Mascarin” stood in need. The next day M. Marion sent some workmen there, with a detachment of well-armed men to protect them. The officers of this expedition thought they saw some commotion amongst the natives, who were in great numbers around them. They redoubled their precautions, and the work was completed without the slightest obstacles being offered. Something took place, however, at this place which merits being reported.
The sergeant who was in charge of the detachment, having gone a little distance away to shoot some birds, saw twenty or thirty men approaching him, armed with barbed spears and clubs. At first he was very anxious, but to reassure him they threw down their weapons, and, making him signs that not far away they had some enemies, they asked for his support. The sergeant walked at their head, and when he was about 50 pacespage 455
from the opposing party he had fired a shot in the air, which had put them to flight. Those whom he had led recognized him as their protector, and accompanied him to the longboat, singing as they went, and from that time called him “Titimon.”
At about a musket-shot from the vessel was another island, upon which M. Marion chose a watering-place, and had the hospital tents erected, placing them under the charge of a corporal and seven men. A large fortified village which was on this island was for a long time of great assistance to our invalids, who got daily supplies of fish therefrom. This was the only food we could get for them, as the most part were suffering from scurvy. The exercise and fresh air soon cured them. A species of myrtle is very common on this coast, and did the sick men much good. Our vessels being now in a safe haven, and sheltered from every wind, our first thought now was to refit them. The “Mascarin,” having nearly all her port side stripped and the forepart opened out, was making a good deal of water. My ship had only her masts injured. For the new masts I required I went all up and down the coast searching for suitable timber from which to make them.
At length, after a good deal of trouble, some of the natives, who had been made to understand what we wanted, took us to a large cove about a league and a half distant from where our vessels were lying, and there we found some very fine trees. I do not exaggerate when I say I saw some trees whose trunks were 90 ft. in height, without branches or knots. I was ordered to establish a masting-camp at this place.
On the 28th May I moved to the place I have mentioned with the larger portion of my crew, and some men from M. Marion's ship, and a detachment of eight soldiers to protect our workers. Two days were not too much to devote to the arrangement of the camp, which would have to shelter us from the inclemency of the wintry weather for at least a month.
Our little camp was pleasantly enough situated. A hill, crowned with evergreen trees, provided shelter against the winds coming from the sea; and on the southern side was a vast swampy plain, it is true, but abounding in game, such as quail, snipe, and wild duck.
The day we had finished arranging our camp M. Marion came there for an excursion, and was curious to see for himself the trees from which we proposed to cut the masts. They were only three-quarters of a league away from the beach at the most,page 457
but the path was very rough, and, notwithstanding anything we could say to M. Marion, he insisted upon going to see the trees. I accompanied him with several officers, and we made the first quarter of a league without encountering any inconvenience other than that caused by a very slippery track. About this point was a swamp about 80 fathoms in width, and into which we waded up to the waist. M. Marion was so tired when he arrived at the forest that he desired to sleep there. As we could not persuade him to alter his decision, we had to make up our minds to pass the night in the open forest. We chose as a retreat a very large tree on the banks of a stream. We had no arms with us except a musket, and we had used three-quarters of the powder in lighting a fire. Having with us nothing to eat, one of the party returned to camp to get some provisions, and brought back at the same time three armed men.
The night was well fitted for our adventure, as the weather was very fine, and no one disturbed us. At daybreak we traced out the path by which we should have to get our two trees out of the forest, and the workmen, who were not long in rejoining us, commenced their task. M. Marion ordered that a work-yard guard should be formed of seven men. We led the quietest and most happy life that could be hoped for amongst a savage people. The natives placed the utmost trust in us, and exchanged their fish and game; and our sailors, far from being downcast by the rigours of the winter and the heavy work, gave each day fresh proofs of their zeal, so we flattered ourselves we should soon be able to put to sea again.
I profited by this arrangement to make a trip into the interior of the country. I took a native with me as a guide, and, in company with two other officers and three soldiers, we set off inland at daybreak.
I tried to find out the full extent of this arm of the sea, and we promised ourselves at the same time some good shooting, as we had seen on the mudbanks by which the little gulf was surrounded a prodigious quantity of duck and teal. It was almost impossible, however, to get near them. The mud was so soft that one of the party who went in too far ahead sunk in it all at once right up to his armpits, and had it not been for the help which we promptly rendered him he would certainly have disappeared. Following the seashore, we came to a very large village, defended by very high palissades and by raisedpage 459
platforms. The chief perceived us coming when we were a long way off. He came to meet us and cried “Ynemaye” (Haeremai), which would seem to signify “Come to me,” and made us be seated by his side, after having embraced us nose to nose.
As I showed that I wished to see the village, he accompanied us to it, but having tried to enter some of the huts, he manifested some opposition. I was all the more surprised at this, in that all the other villages I had visited we were always permitted to enter freely. I did not stop in this village, and, having made the chief understand that we wished to cross the channel, the New-Zealander at once ordered three canoes to be manned, in which we embarked. I thanked him for this, and gave him a part of our provisions. During the crossing I noticed that one canoe was dropping behind the other. I had my canoe stopped, and when the other came up with us my travelling companions told me that their paddlers had wished to turn back, but having presented a musket at the master he made them go on. I paid no great attention to this incident, and we kept on our way without any trouble from the natives. Nevertheless, I was anxious to get to the shore again. When we got to the other side we again followed the beach, and were accompanied for some time by a large number of New-Zealanders. At 4 o'clock in the afternoon we called a halt, on the bank of a river, the largest we had yet seen.
We were only about half-way to the camp, and could no longer hope to reach it before nightfall. To add to our misfortune, we had separated from our soldiers; however, after walking for five hours, we arrived, thanks to our guide, safe and sound at the camp, where we found the soldiers, who had had no more success in their sport than ourselves. During the whole day we could only shoot five ducks and some ring-dove pigeons.
He had that day accompanied M. Marion, whom he had left to go shooting in the forest, where he had lost his way. Night having come on, and M. Marion, after having sent out men to search for him in every direction, having gone back to the ship, from which he was at least 4 leagues away, M. Vaudricourt, finding himself about 9 in the evening on the seashore saw a light, and went in that direction. It was in a little village, where he was very well received. The natives gave him some food, and brought him back to our camp by the light of a torch. We paid them very handsomely for their trouble, and the nextpage 461
morning M. Vaudricourt, on his return to the ship, told M. Marion all that had happened. Our commander, who was already too much prejudiced in favour of those people, now placed the utmost confidence in them.
On the 6th June I went to the working-place, and there we saw, contrary to custom, a large number of natives. The idea did not occur to me that they had any evil intention, but it is, however, presumable that they had already plotted our destruction, and formed the project of carrying off all our belongings. Of this we became convinced the very same night. A gunshot which we heard at 10 o'clock first made us uneasy, but not having heard any more shots, we believed we had been mistaken. Very soon one of the soldiers who had been on guard at the mast-yard informed us that the natives had slipped into the guard tent, and had carried off a musket and some clothes, that the sentinel had fired at them, and that upon the gun being fired they had heard a lot of natives who were lying hidden in the bush. We sent off a detachment forthwith, but before the men could get to the masting camp, the natives had taken flight.
M. Aumont, an officer of the “Mascarin,” set fire to this village, and captured a chief whom he met on the way, charging him with the robbery. A small anchor of 300 lb., a musket, and a greatcoat had been taken. M. Croizet wished to make the native confess, and thought he could succeed in doing so by having the man tied up to a stake; but having kept on denying he was guilty, the chief accused Piquiore, chief of a village very near where our vessels were lying, and even proposed to make war upon him. I was by no means of this opinion, and M. Marion, who had been informed of everything that had taken place, ordered the prisoner to be set free, and that in future a better watch to be kept.
During the detention of this islander, the others kept away from us, and were always armed. A few days after the liberation of their comrade they returned in great numbers, and we made a treaty of peace with them. To one of the chiefs was presented a palm branch and a naked sword. The chief took the palm branch and embraced the man who had given it to him; afterwards, turning to his people, he spoke to them for some time. They promised to bring us some fish the next day, and kept their word. Notwithstanding all this, I placed no trust in this peace. I asked M. Marion for a further supply of arms and ammunition, which he seemed to give with some regret.page 463
On the 12th I went on board M. Marion's ship, to give him an account of everything that had taken place; and having made him aware of the small degree of honesty that I had noticed amongst the natives, he replied that we ought to be indulgent with people who knew no difference between neum and tuum, and that what is regarded amongst us as a theft is not so considered by them, and that besides, he believed them incapable of hatching any evil enterprise against us. As a most convincing proof of this he informed me that a few days previously, having been for a stroll to a village, the chief had welcomed him at the head of his people, sitting on their mats, and had returned the musket which had been stolen from the guard-tent at the masting cam. The same day, in the afternoon, M. Marion went off in his cutter with M. Lehoux de Vaudricourt and thirteen sailors, armed with muskets, and cutlasses. Not having seen him return on board, I believed him to be at the c& in the neighbourhood of which I knew he had intended to go fishing.
The next day at 6 o'clock in the morning, I sent my longboat to get some firewood. A volunteer, the boatswain, and two sailors went in the boat. Two hours afterwards we heard a cry which came from the landside, and almost at the same moment a man was seen swimming off to the ship. I sent and had him picked up. He was one of the crew of the longboat, and told me that the New Zealanders, according to their custom, had come down to meet the boat, and that having entered the water, they had carried our men ashore, and that each sailor, armed with his axe, and the boatswain, who carried his musket under his arm, had gone into the woods. Hardly, however, had they begun their work than, hearing a hideous cry, they were attacked by more than 300 men, who murdered them before they had time to recover themselves, but that he, very fortunately, having gone further into the forest, and having been wounded by a spear thrust, and seeing himself attacked by only two of these savages, had killed them both with his axe, and then, having got through the woods to a point whence he could see the ships, and not being able to make himself heard on board, had thrown away his axe, in order to swim off to the ship. This man had scarcely finished narrating his unlucky adventure, when we saw from five to six hundred savages who were going to attack our hospital camp. I immediately sent some men to the rescue, and nearly all the natives then took to flight.
I again sent off the same boat, well armed, to try and discover what had become of M. Marion, and to render assistance to the company at the masting camp, as to the safety of which I was greatly anxious. The officer who was in command of thispage 465
boat saw my own longboat aground in a little cove, and a little further away was M. Marion's cutter, which had been dragged up under a tree. These boats were surrounded by a great number of natives, who were very menacing in their attitude.
The longboat went on to the camp, where she arrived just in the nick of time, the whole of the company being engaged in different work, and the camp, which was almost deserted, was surrounded by more than five hundred men, all armed with spears and clubs. As soon as the New-Zealanders saw the longboat approaching, although a long way off, they recognized at once that they were discovered, and made off for the neighbouring hills. As they ran they shouted “Marion mate,” which signifies “Marion has been killed.”
M. Croizet, who was at that time engaged in superintending the dragging-out of the masts, not being able to remove all his working-gear, had it placed in the large tent. This precaution proved useless, for about one hundred natives, who had been lying in ambuscade, having seen what had been done, carried off the tools right in sight of our men. M. Croizet having got back to the camp, got all his people on board his longboat and my cutter, the two boats barely sufficing to hold them. They had no sooner left the village (? camp) than the natives set fire to our huts. A few shots were fired at them, but this did not stop them. Several natives were noticed whe were wearing clothes belonging to M. Marion and to his sailors, also M. de Vaudricourt's sword, which one of them was carrying in a handolier.
M. Croizet and I resolved to send all our forces to the island, where the New Zealanders were again gathering in large numbers, and we agreed that upon a signal being given in case of attack we should immediately land a detachment. The signal being given at 7 o'clock in the evening, I immediately despatched more men in our cutters. As soon as the boats returned we learnt that the natives had made a sortie, but at the first volley they had retired. I had reason to believe that a cannonading which I had had made by the guns of the ships to support the landing had had a good effect.
The next day, the 14th, the wind blowing with great force, and the officer in command of our hospital on the island seeing himself still exposed to the attacks of the natives, resolved to drive them off, and for this purpose picked out a detachment of twenty-seven men, who drove back the natives to their fortified village, which they possessed on this island, and in which they had taken refuge. Our men having followed them up, broke through the palisade, and made themselves masters ofpage 467
the village, after having killed four of the principal chiefs, who were defending the gateway, and more than five hundred men, without counting the wounded who escaped in the canoes. We tried from the vessels to oppose their retreat, but the wind was so strong that the longboat despatched to carry out this work could not cut them off.
At length, our people having set fire to the village, and not seeing any more natives, returned to their camp, where they passed the night without disturbance. The only man in the party who was wounded was M. le Chevalier de Lorimier, volunteer of the legion, who was in command of the detachment.
The next day I gave orders that this camp should be broken up, and continued to get in supplies of fresh water from the island, of which we were completely the masters. After the loss of twenty-seven of our best men, the small number who were left not being sufficient to carry on the work and watch over the safety of our vessels, I was obliged to abandon the new masts, which were still a long way from the beach. This sacrifice meant all the more to me as my ship had only its mainmast left. I succeeded, however, in replacing the other three masts without the slightest assistance from land.
We set up a forge on board the “Mascarin,” and all our carpenters set to work to make new masts. The foremast was built of nineteen pieces, of which the principal was a spare mizzenmast. The bowsprit and the mizzenmast were each made out of a spare topmast.
Whilst we were working at the remasting and rigging of our vessels the remainder of the crews got in supplies of fresh water and firewood. Both were procurable from the island, so we had less to fear on the part of the islanders.
One day, however, our workers were disturbed by fifty New Zealanders, who, in order to take our people by surprise, had hidden themselves in the fern, but having been observed by one of the sentries, they were driven off, and not having time to regain their canoes, they were obliged to take refuge on a rock a little away from the village, but our men, having reached it by swimming before they did, the natives had to take to the water to reach an island a little further away. A volley was fired, and seven or eight of them were killed. A few days afterwards I ordered a party to land on the main island and set fire to the village where lived Tacoury, who was suspected of the murder of Marion. Only one old man was found there. Seeing one of our men passing by who had not noticed the native, the latter tried to kill him, but the blow missed the sailor, who shot down his assailant.page 469
This expedition afforded me strong proof of M. Marion's death. Human bones were found in the village from which the flesh had not been long removed. These bones seemed, indeed, to have been cooked at a fire. In another place were seen the intestines of a man concealed under some rubbish, and the waist-coat of one of our men was also found, riddled with spear-holes and covered with blood-stains. We also visited the place where the massacre had taken place, but nothing could be seen there save the ruins of our boats.
At length, despairing of getting any more certain knowledge of M. Marion's fate, and our vessels being ready to put to sea, the question arose as to where we should steer for after leaving New Zealand.
Although M. Marion's death had left me in charge of the expedition and its course, I did not wish to roly solely upon my own judgment, and not having found in M. Marion's papers a single document by which I could be guided, I assembled the officers of the two ships. After having discussed our means and taken into consideration the monsoons, it was decided to put into the Marianne Islands, whence it would be easy to reach Manilla. Besides being furnished with letters from the Court of Spain to the Philippines, we relied upon finding at the latter islands the readiest help, and could there perhaps dispose more advantageously of the various articles of cargo on M. Marion's account. This latter object did not concern me in the least. I did not wish to be mixed up in any trading, but M. Croizet took charge of the business, and this reason alone would have determined me to take no step without consulting that officer.page 446page 447page 448page 449page 450page 451page 452page 453page 454page 455page 456page 457page 458page 459page 460page 461page 462page 463page 464page 465page 466page 467